Skip to comments.Settlement In “No Gay Reception” Case: Public Businesses Do Not Have a License to Discriminate
Posted on 08/26/2012 5:22:38 AM PDT by scottjewell
...the ACLU and the ACLU of Vermont announced a fantastic settlement that we obtained in Baker & Linsley v. Wildflower Inn. We brought the case on behalf of a same-sex couple who were told they could not have their wedding reception at a Vermont resort called Wildflower Inn because of the owners personal religious beliefs about marriage. As part of the settlement agreement, Wildflower Inn agreed that Vermonts public accommodations law prohibits unequal treatment of same-sex couples, which includes turning away same-sex couples seeking to have a wedding reception, failing to respond to inquiries from those couples, or discouraging those couples from using the facilities. The resort also agreed to pay $10,000 to the Vermont Human Rights Commission as a civil penalty and to place $20,000 in a charitable trust to be disbursed by the couple. The plaintiffs, Kate Linsley (nee Baker) and Ming Linsley, will not be retaining any of the money for themselves.
If you have not already heard Kate and Mings story, heres what happened. Kate and Ming wished to hold their wedding ceremony at a Buddhist retreat in Vermont and have their reception at a nearby inn. Mings mother, Channie Peters, contacted the Vermont Convention Bureau to locate a facility and received information on the Wildflower Inn. The 24-room inn described itself as an award-winning resort and an ideal destination-wedding location. Baker and Ming were excited about holding the reception there, but when the events manager learned that the reception was for a lesbian couple, Peters was told that due to the innkeepers personal feelings, the inn does not host gay receptions.
It was a shocking and hurtful experience, not only for Kate and Ming, but also for Channie and the rest of their family. Kate and Ming were ultimately able to have their reception at another venue, but the experience cast a cloud over their celebration. Kate and Ming brought this case to make sure that the same experience doesnt happen to anyone else.
As the case went forward, we discovered that other couples had also been turned away by Wildflower Inn and that many more were discriminated against without even realizing it. It turns out Wildflower Inn had a policy of not responding to initial inquiries or phone calls about wedding receptions if it was clear that the reception would be for a same-sex couple. In other cases, the owners of Wildflower Inn admitted they would discourage same-sex couples from using the facilities by telling those couples that hosting the reception would violate their religious beliefs. As part of the settlement, Wildflower Inn has agreed to change its policies and will not engage in any of these discriminatory practices.
This settlement has important ramifications beyond the actions of a single Vermont resort. In recent years, other couples have experienced similar discriminatory treatment based on the personal beliefs of a business owner. In New Jersey, the owner of a wedding dress shop refused to sell a woman a wedding dress when she learned that she was marrying another woman. In Illinois, a bed and breakfast turned away a couple who asked to have a civil union reception at the facility, and then urged the couple to repent for their sins. In Hawaii, the owners of a hotel refused even to rent a room to a same-sex couple. And in Colorado, a bakery recently refused to sell wedding cakes to gay customers for their marriage celebration. In all of these states, businesses are barred by state law from discriminating against customers based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or religion, among other protected categories. But the owners of these businesses have claimed that they do not have to follow those laws because of their personal religious beliefs.
Kate and Mings settlement with Wildflower Inn sends an important message to business owners that when you decide to enter the commercial sphere and open your doors to the general public, you have to follow the same rules that apply to everyone else and cant use your own personal religious beliefs to pick and choose who you want to serve. This is not a new idea.
Many people believe that owning a business means that the business owner has the absolute right to serve, or refuse to serve, whomever they like, but thats simply not true. In fact, our legal system has for hundreds of years treated inns and hotels as public accommodations that have a duty to serve all customers on equal terms. We do not let business owners rely on their religious beliefs to turn away customers based on their race, or to refuse to hire women, or to avoid complying with laws about fair labor standards. When business owners argued that federal civil rights laws violated their religious beliefs by requiring them to stop racially segregating their customers, the courts rightly rejected those claims as frivolous.
We do not let wedding-reception businesses or any other business turn away customers because of the couples race, or because the reception is for an interfaith couple, or because the husband is divorced, or because the couple uses birth control. The same principles apply when the customer is a same-sex couple. Everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs, but when you operate a business in the public sphere those beliefs do not give you a right to discriminate.
"Vermont Inn, 2 Lesbians settle gay marriage case"
If anything is to be learned, its that voting on LGBT rights, discrimination laws, and gay marriage has to be taken very seriously, because once on the books there is no further recourse.
We need to overturn the civil rights act and allow people to run their private businesses as they wish.
If a business doesn’t want to serve straight white Christians, so be it. I’ll find one that does.
Back in the 1950s, some lunch counter owners said that they did not want to serve Negroes. "It's my business, and I can serve who I want." Society made the decision then that collective rights of some privileged classes were more important than property rights of individual business owners. It was a mistake.
It's a dumb business decision to say "I don't serve your kind" but in a society which values property, it is an essential right to say exactly that.
Interesting that they are now called “Public Businesses”. I suppose “Private Enterprise” is also an antiquated notion in the era of “You didn’t build that”.
I wish I could exclaim “Unbelievable!” alas, that day is long past.
Indeed - People are taught that 'civil rights' is the holy grail of life except it is anything but that. It is a tool that Marxist use to get what they want. Just who has these civil rights? Do I have civil rights? Obviously the owners of the Wildflower Inn don't have civil rights.
The next step? Force a church to perform a gay wedding.
One of my favorite presidents.
key words: “in Vermont”
I suspect that if anti discrimination laws were overturned minority owned businesses that discriminate would blossom and thrive far better than white owned racist businesses. The left simply cannot allow the world to see that.
In my personal opinion it would be a good thing because it would be good for the economy. As it is now, its doing more harm than good for minorities.
He doesn’t have the integrity to include the fact that the inn will refrain from this”discriminatory policy” by not hosting any wedding receptions, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Thus a vast majority’s rights to a chosen venue are abrogated. I suppose the same thing will happen when motel swimming pools begin to close down because of inability to afford the chair lift dictated by ADA fiats.
Actually, I think there were state laws requiring segregation. It was not up to the lunch counter. But, I could be wrong.
Another abuse of the courts......If my business is my property, I accept who I wish.
Communies and Leftists always see the world as a zero sum game. They steal something from you to give it to someone else. If that can’t do that, then they prevent you from earning what they want to steal. In this case, it’s wedding receptions.
Yes, sadly, it seems long past.
“Obviously the owners of the Wildflower Inn don’t have civil rights.”
Perhaps one day all of this will be reversed on that premise.
Of course, there’s another way to skin a cat; the owners could give an interview to a Baptist Sunday school paper declaring that they will continue to contribute to supposedly anti-gay marriage (actually pro-family) charities, then the homosexuals will boycott them.
Right, yours is the common-sense approach with a respect for liberty - but we both know who will not allow this view to prevail.
“Actually, I think there were state laws requiring segregation. It was not up to the lunch counter. But, I could be wrong.”
You are absolutely correct. The laws mandated segregation in virtually all spheres of public life. So now we have gone to the other extreme.
A “Human Rights Commission” is something that does not belong in America; ideas like that should have died with the Soviet Union.
That sounds like a good strategy - - unless of course the gays decide to bring an anti-discrimination suit which will enforce mandatory diversity training such as the one launched in Illinois by TCRA against Chick-Fil-A.
Actually an even better approach by the owners would be to allow all comers to have their receptions, but to inform that all proceeds of homosexual events will be donated to Family Research Council.
Two gay guys should try to hold a reception as a muslim owned property. I’d bet the government would say nothing if the couple were denied.
LOL yes, the ONLY state in the country without a theater showing ‘2016 the movie’ !
Just noticed link was not appearing :
I’ve been turned away from drinking establishments because I wasn’t wearing a collar. This is insane.
Indeed the HRC took its origin-idea from the former Soviet Union.
The civil rights movement has actually stripped away the important freedoms of association and assembly. People should have the ability to associate and do business with whomever they wish, and if that means “No Gays” or “Black Only” so be it.
Welcome to the USSA, comrades. You will obey the PC commissars, or else!
Instead of simply choosing one of the inns oriented towards adults, the complaining lesbians chose an inn whose owners and atmosphere are inconsistent with their plans. Apparently they never considered, for example, that other inns turn away families with children, or that inns exist which would not welcome a religious group, or a group of bikers, or other groups that would be inconsistent with how the inn wanted to maintain its atmosphere.
A group of religious people with their children should call up one of the "gay friendly" inns in Vermont and try to book the entire inn for a weekend retreat. I'd like to see if the ACLU, etc. wants to take up that lawsuit.
I've never seen the government of Vermont enforce anti-discrimination laws against inns where the discrimination is against families or children. Somehow I doubt they are about to start.
As others have noted inn owners should be able to choose which customers to do business with, particularly when it comes to groups, since the atmosphere of the inn, which is what the innkeeper is really selling, depends on the mix of visitors present.
If businesses have no license to discriminate then government has even less.
Very well said - this information makes the case seem all the more unjust. I wouldn’t doubt that the inn was targeted by the lesbians with a lawsuit in mind, and to make an example of them. Really a disgrace.
I urge Freepers looking to vacation in Vermont to consider the Wildflower Inn, its a great place, and its owners could use our support.
And visit the chapel if you want to!
Next step: no more PRIVATE PROPERTY at all.
Welcome to Obama's AmeriKa.
Yes indeed - a frightening slippery slope.
I believe it was Aloise Hitler that used his half brother’s connections to force his Jewish landlord to allow Aloise to expand his business to take over the entire building.
The landlord ended up fleeing the country.
Notice what one of the lesbians’ mother said about her encounter with the Wildflower Inn, and how she does not see the irony of still pressing a suit and making an example of them, even though it was easy as pie to find another inn:
“Fortunately, I soon found a perfectly beautiful venue for their reception, a place that welcomes my daughter and her fiancée. And fortunately, I also learned that the Wildflower Inn is in the distinct minority in its discriminatory policy. But that doesnt excuse the Wildflower Inns discrimination or make their conduct any less hurtful and humiliating. I hope that by filing their lawsuit Ming and Kate will be able to make sure that other couples will be treated equally by public businesses regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.”
Coming soon to a church near you...
From your lips to God's ear. Surely that's their next target isn't it?
There is one thing very different here. Black people are not doing anything wrong and should be treated as anybody else. Homosexuals are people doing something wrong. You have no moral obligation to serve them at all. People who include homosexuals as a minority are twisting things way out of proportion.
My son is the assistant pastor at a small, non-denominational, evangelical church and they are VERY concerned about this. They know in this day and age that they could lose a court case and be forced to perform such weddings.
How about PRIVATE BUSINESS instead of PUBLIC business?
Every church in the US will be forced to perform “gay marriages” or lose tax exempt status. They will argue it’s analogous to interracial marriage and if it’s a legal marriage denying it is illegal.
They’ll also try to make any questioning any of the homosexual “hate speech.”. Someone in Canada has already been convicted of quoting the Bible on the topic as a human rights violation.
It would be a nice start, to have a push-back from all of this, which would call for a renewal of liberty in the private sphere, and the importance of such.
Is there not a single social-conservative billionaire willing to put up megabucks to defeat the ACLU in these cases? If not, they will continue to bully small businesses across the land, using the disgraceful legal system with which we are infected: legal costs unaffordable, and loser never pays.
I am not saying that homosexuals are Samsung products, nor am I saying that homosexuals are dogs. I'm just choosing who or what I want at my establishment.
If a business chooses not to serve blacks or homosexuals, the business is not necessarily seeing homosexuals or blacks in a similar way or equating the two groups. I see blacks and homosexuals as two very different collections of humans. But, if I wanted to ban one or both from my lunch counter, I think I should have that right as a property owner.
BS it is exactly the very same premise. The government is forcing you and your business weather you want too or not. In addition to that the same government that is forcing businesses to 'not discriminate' is also the very same government that encourages, allows and protects the likes of the Black Caucus, affirmative action and a whole host of discriminatory race based policies, laws and politics.